City and county department directors have made significant progress on how road maintenance and law enforcement transitions will occur when more areas are annexed to the Santa Fe city limits in coming years.
Members of the Santa Fe County Commission and City Council who attended a joint session Thursday evening reached consensus on two agreements leading to the next phase in an annexation plan adopted in 2008.
At the time, officials agreed to a three-phase schedule. The first phase happened on time, but the second wasn’t completed by a 2011 deadline. That planned annexation — which includes much of the territory along Airport and Agua Fría roads on the southwestern edges of the city and includes homes of about 13,000 residents — is now targeted for completion by next July.
Public safety has been a contentious topic in previous joint sessions, but city Police Chief Ray Rael and County Sheriff Robert Garcia now agree on how they will respond to calls in the area, which has the highest volume of calls in the region. Although the original annexation agreement called for the city to immediately take over the territory, law enforcement leaders this week said that wasn’t practical given staff levels and the amount of time needed to train new hires.
The two agreed instead that in the first year both jurisdictions will maintain current service. The second year, the city will assume all law enforcement in the areas that will become city territory south of and including Airport Road. The third year, the city will assume activity in the annexation area south of the village of Agua Fría.
The sheriff reiterated, however, that the agencies won’t argue over particular emergency calls on either side of the boundary lines. The county will maintain jurisdiction inside the city even after annexation and will respond as needed, he said.
With respect to roads, the county will decide when to undertake repairs “with the intent to accomplish all activities as quickly as funding allows,” but the whole list must be done before the final recording of the annexation.
“We are trying to target the most important roads first and target the roads that are in the worst condition first,” said county Public Works Director Adam Leigland.
As soon as the county fixes a particular roadway, it will convey ownership to the city and the city will take over responsibility for future maintenance.
Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger and Councilor Chris Calvert said they want the city to make announcements in the newspaper when roads change jurisdiction. Street signs will also change to the city’s color scheme when a shift occurs.
The local governments still need to come to agreement about how to handle a serious drainage problem they’ve both identified along West Alameda.
Both the roads and public-safety agreements are subject to final approval by the County Commission and City Council. A revised timeline for the third annexation phase also remains unresolved. Some officials from both jurisdictions have talked about dropping those plans altogether. Another meeting between the two governing bodies will be scheduled early next year.
Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 505-986-3017 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @julieanngrimm.